Since 2011 the Primate and Predator Project has gained an increased understanding of human-wildlife conflict issues in the area. We have also detected a suspected increase in human-induced predator mortality. Many of the landowners that we have spoken to expressed that they would appreciate more support farming and living with wildlife. Earlier this year we received funding from the Shell Earthwatch Stakeholder Engagement Fund to hire a Community Engagement Officer for a year to work with local communities and mitigate human-wildlife conflict. This will be achieved primarily by responding to calls for help from farmers and leading workshops on sustainable ways of farming with wildlife. The Community Engagement Officer will also be responsible for developing and leading our new environmental education programme and sharing scientific results with local people.
In August we identified Philip Faure as a leading candidate for the new role. He attended our September 1st to 12th Earthwatch team as a community fellow thanks to funding from Pam Chesonis. By attending Earthwatch we were able to determine if he would be suitable for the role and help develop his skills accordingly. It also gave Philip the opportunity to determine if the project’s work and the challenges of human-wildlife conflict would suit his skills and career aspirations. Following the expedition, and having interviewed Philip and spoken to other candidates he was offered the position and he began immediately.
In 2014, Philip completed a BTech degree in Nature Conservation from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University. He is local to South Africa and has experience with a diversity of ethnic groups. Philip previously worked for Zingela Game Reserves where he gained experience with the breeding of rare and valuable game, deployment and logistics of anti-poaching operations, animal tracking, game capture and translocation operations as well as other general game reserve management responsibilities. He has local knowledge of the bushveld and of various South African cultures. In addition, he has also voluntarily worked for various organisations during his university career which includes: Helderberg Nature Reserve (Somerset West), SANParks Scientific Services (Rondevlei, Sedgefield), and Garden Route Botanical Gardens (George). Currently, he is researching the diet composition of a group of brown hyaenas from a study site west of the Blouberg Mountain. He is fascinated by bats and most nights you will find him wondering around in the dark recording bat calls.
We are very excited to have Philip on board and we are looking forward to taking the project’s conservation and education work to the next level. If you would like advice on mitigating human-wildlife conflict, or get involved in our environmental educational initiatives, Philip can be contacted on 0718418361, or alternatively you can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photos taken by Russell Hill and Gina Porter.